This won’t be long—I’m afraid I still don’t really have much of a brain. So little brain, in fact, that I forgot I was supposed to blog, so it’s Thursday night and I’m sitting in the breeze blowing through my window, thinking about what will be fun for you.
But maybe what’s fun for me is to tell you about my big night last Saturday, when I was inducted into the Romance Writers Hall of Fame. It takes three RITAs in a single category to make the HoF, and although I had six before this conference, they were scattered across four categories—two in category contemporary, one in historical, one single title contemporary and two in Novel With Romantic Elements.
On Saturday night, How To Bake A Perfect Life won the RITA for Novel With Romantic Elements, giving me the three needed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It is a huge honor, and I cried when everyone stood up to clap, but mainly I was thinking about the 12-year-old I had been, who wanted to be a writer even though she had no idea that happened. She was twirling around beside me, on the stage, wearing a glittery purple tiara and fishnet stockings and a green and purple sequined tutu, a magic wand in her hand.
The thing is, writing romances has given me a life I never thought I’d have. I wanted it, but it seemed as unobtainable as growing up to be a “movie star” or something. Weird, outside the realm of what everyday people did. My grandfather was a mechanic. My father sold motorcycles. Hardly anyone in our world even went to college.
Luckily, I was born into a crazy family of creatives. My mother is—by far—the smartest person I have ever met, only slightly equaled by my son the supreme court clerk. She pushed me, made me brave, read my writing, made me work harder.
And there were teachers (thank you) who told me I was smart and could probably get money for college, and teachers who read my writing aloud to classes and made me think it maybe wasn’t just my mom who thought I was pretty good at writing.
Somehow, I made it through college, working two jobs and any number of internships and discovered I didn’t actually want to write newspaper articles, but I wanted to write NOVELS. I found Romantic Times, which helped me figure out how to submit books to Silhouette.
The day I first sold was similar to the feeling I had the night of the RITA awards: can this really be happening to me? Can I really have just sold an actual, real live book? I felt like Cinderella, but the prince was the career that I had dreamed of since the age of 12.
Looking out into that crowd, I thought about how many of us have found our dreams through RWA, finding friends and critique groups and advice and classes, giving each other permission to be writers, tell our stories, just the way we want to tell them. How fantastic is that?
I am in love with this career, and it is so much more than I ever expected—it has given me the means to travel the world, and to meet thousands and thousands of interesting people, and form deep friendships and be unapologetically who I am. It’s also just plain fun. And I think of Carlyle, who said, “Let he who has found his work ask no other blessedness.”
Okay, so maybe there was more in there than I knew. Tell me about dreams you had that you fulfilled, or dreams that are still burning within you. How have dreams guided your life?